A Brief History of Tomi Lahren’s Ongoing Faceplant with Hip-Hop
If you’ve spent more than 20 seconds on Facebook over the last few years, you’ve likely had the misfortune of seeing one of Tomi Lahren’s videos. Even with the sound off, Lahren’s schtick is clear: She’s a conservative commentator, loudly and angrily covering hot-button topics and using phrases like “let that sink in” or “let’s be clear about one thing…” when the “thing” is usually some blatant white nationalist rhetoric.
Ironically, while the 25-year-old’s viral videos have amounted to an endless garbage heap of abhorrent opinions, the one decent thing she’s ever said—that the government should not have control over a woman’s body—got her booted from her gig at Glenn Beck’s conservative media site, The Blaze. But much like the swallows instinctively find their way to Capistrano, Lahren soon joined her angry, blonde talking heads at Fox News, where she is now employed as a contributor.
Among Lahren’s favorite targets are rich Democrats, hypocritical liberals, the Hollywood elite, and Colin Kaepernick, who she once called a “whiny, indulgent, attention-seeking crybaby” and Photoshopped kneeling during D-Day to prove a point about, uh… [insert point here later]. She routinely substitutes reason for patronizing diatribes, false equivalencies, and Olympic-level mental gymnastics. She also gets off on calling people “snowflakes,” apparently seeing no irony in being the whitest, most delicate person on the planet.
Like many of her Fox News colleagues, including disgraced former Fox blowhard and current guy who does a podcast in his bathrobe Bill O’Reilly, Lahren’s relationship with hip-hop music and black artists has been… complicated. Lahren has actually said that she is “someone who happens to love rap music” which, go UNLV, whooooo!, yet she continually draws ire from the rap community for attacking its biggest stars. Here are a few highlights from Lahren’s short but prolific career as a professional loud person.
Let’s just start with the main course since Tomi Lahren’s ongoing internet feud with Wale is the stuff of legend.
In early 2017, Wale released a song called “Smile,” where he namedropped Lahren (sort of) in the lyric, “Maybe I should meet Tammy Lauren; I’ll Lauryn Hill her.” Maybe Wale was just being playful with some light trolling, or maybe Tomi Lahren’s name is one of those things no one is really sure how to pronounce because you see it exclusively in print and never actually hear it spoken aloud, like “acai berries.” Lahren must’ve been skimming SoundCloud that day because she found the lyrical slight and took to Twitter to defend herself. “So if you're gonna put someone in a song...diss 'em.. perhaps get their fricken name right next time,” she tweeted at the rapper. Wale’s response was short and dismissive: “Ok Tammy.” It was only two words but probably fucked her up worse than any two words in her life with the possible exception of “black President.” Deliberately misnaming Lahren has now become a time-honored national pastime enjoyed by people young and old of all races and genders. A year later and it’s still impossible to peek into her mentions without finding an endless stream of replies calling her “Tammy,” “Tabitha,” “Tormy,” etc. It’s been so effectively disorienting that Lahren’s own parents might even forget Tammy’s name at this point. Lahren tried clapping back with an “Ok Whale” but by then it was too late and she’d already been swept away by a sea of good-ass online owns.
But wait, the Twitter saga continues! During Tamika’s messy public firing from conservative shithole The Blaze—which, again, is fucking hilarious—she sipped a lil tea about it on Twitter, posting, “I'm gonna take the advice of @Wale and just smile.” And Wale, who pretty much could’ve tweeted literally anything back to this softball setup and come out on top, responded, “Same phone who dis.” Wale: 2. Tamrynn: 0.
After Trump’s xenophobic Presidential campaign in 2016, he became such career cyanide that no celebrity would come within 100 yards of him, so much so that he couldn’t get a single reputable act to perform at his inauguration and had to settle for a bunch of wash-ups and nobodies and also 3 Doors Down. So when actual A-lister Kanye West met with the newly elected President at Trump Tower in December of 2016, many fans asked a reasonable question: “Kanye wtf are you doing?” Some expressed disgust that West would meet with a man who called Mexicans rapists and proposed a national registry of Muslims, while others questioned whether West was just detached from reality or having some sort of mental breakdown. Of course, Lahren used this as an opportunity to attack "the intolerant left," telling Bill O’Reilly, “Kanye’s had a breakdown since 2009 when he interrupted Taylor Swift at the VMAs, so let’s be clear.” Weird. Would’ve never had Lahren pegged as a Taylor Swift fan. Anyway, she goes on: “The fact that he goes to Trump Tower and wants to reach out to our President-elect, that should be a moment the social justice warriors relish in because that’s unity, but of course not because it’s President Trump.” Yes, Lahren, a paid political commentator, has a firm grasp on the tenets of liberalism, namely the desire to unite with an aspiring oligarch who would be defending neo-Nazi rallies in mere weeks.
In 2016, 50 Cent posted an Instagram video of himself making fun of a young janitor at an airport who he thought was high. It turned out, the man was not high, but autistic, and suffered from social anxiety disorder. Lahren, sensing an opportunity to chastise a rapper guilt-free, jumped on 50, saying in a video that what he did was wrong and that he’s “not a monster but still, this is just sickening.” Lahren was actually in the right on this one, and 50 later apologized. Of course, dunking on 50 Cent at this point is like getting a toddler to tap out in a UFC match. But instead of making her point and stopping there, within seconds Lahren pivoted to a bizarre rant that used this instance as an example of the persecution that conservatives face. “Meanwhile, we’ve got snot-nosed, whiny kids parading around college campuses protesting the college Republicans and asking for safe spaces,” she said, rambling off her usual conservative Mad Libs keywords when talking about “social justice warriors,” “entitlement,” and “pity parties.” You might think it’s a bit of a stretch to liken 50 Cent’s tasteless joke to perceived discrimination against Republicans, but this is a woman who blamed the Tide Pod challenge on “the breakdown of the American family.” So congrats to Tomi Lahren for being able to use the story of an autistic man to somehow defend the honor of literal diaper-wearing young Republicans.
Kendrick Lamar’s performance at the 2015 BET Awards, which featured him standing on top of a police cruiser in front of an American flag, got his name on the radar of the angry right-wing media, who didn’t much care for it. Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera said it sent “exactly the wrong message” in a segment that ended up getting sampled on Lamar's Grammy-winning album DAMN. But when Lamar gave a similarly controversial performance at the 2016 Grammys, where he appeared shackled with chains in prison, Lahren took a different approach. She said she found it “refreshing” and dropped this bit of “I’m not mad, actually, I’m laughing” reasoning:
“For those that think Kendrick’s performance scared white people, you’re wrong. Kendrick Lamar actually writes his songs, he speaks his truth. It’s refreshing to hear a hip-hop artist rap about something other than drugs, sex and violence. I say this as someone who happens to love rap music.”
So either one of two things is happening here. 1. Lahren was being so sarcastic that it was impossible tell because her outrage schtick is so comically over the top. Or 2. Her priorities are so groundless that she has no problem with a man going on CBS, the network where our nation’s septuagenarians get Big Bang Theoried, and singing the lyric “You hate my people, your plan is to terminate my culture,” yet the sight of a football player quietly kneeling sends her flying off the handle.
Like many angry conservatives including Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, and Bill “falafel on her pussy” O’Reilly, Lahren hates Beyoncé something fierce. When the singer performed at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2016 donning Black Panther regalia, Lahren had an embolism about it on her “Final Thoughts” segment. Actually, “Final Thoughts” is a bit of a misnomer, since there were no real thoughts, just a lot of white-hot rage, historical rewriting of the Black Panther movement, and doing this thing with her hand a lot:
The segment accused Beyoncé of referencing the Black Panthers “for attention,” “ripping off the historical Band-Aid,” and “playing the victim.” Lahren then dove into this inane rant that got very personal:
“Guess what, Beyoncé. White people like your music too. White people buy your songs on iTunes, memorize your lyrics, and admire your talent and beauty. Little white girls wanna be like you just as little black girls do, but instead of recognizing that, you’d rather perpetuate the great battle of the races. Your husband was a drug dealer. For 14 years, he sold crack cocaine. Talk about protecting black neighborhoods, start at home.”
It was so incendiary that Beyoncé’s team reportedly asked Lahren if they could sample some of it on her “Formation” tour, a request which was denied. But that wouldn’t be the last time Lahren poked the Beehive by taking on Beyoncé as a topic. The sight of Beyoncé presenting the 2017 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award to Colin Kaepernick—who again, Lahren does not like—prompted her to tweet: “Police-hating Beyoncé presents police and America-hating Kappy with a ‘legacy’ award. This is how far we’ve fallen. Wow.” Of course, Beyoncé and Kaepernick’s respective social movements have been a bit more nuanced than blatant “police-hating” and “America-hating,” but to understand that would involve active listening and a genuine desire to learn, and who needs that when you can do this thing:
After Lahren’s aforementioned rant about Jay-Z selling drugs, Jay took her line about him, sampled it, and responded in a verse on Pusha T’s “Drug Dealers Anonymous,” singing:
“14-year drug dealer and still counting
Who deserves the medal of freedom is my accountant
He been hula-hooping through loopholes, working 'round shit
IRS should’ve had the townhouses surrounded”
Jay-Z’s drug-dealing past is not exactly a secret, as he has made roughly 9,000 hit songs about it. One might assume that turning away from this life to become one of the world’s most successful music moguls would fall in line with the right’s pulling-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps American dream narrative, but that only seems to apply to suburban men who open small businesses that sell novelty decals for pickup trucks. Lahren, as she is wont to do, responded on Twitter, tweeting at Pusha T (who, keep in mind, did not did not address her in the song and also did not write the song “99 Problems”): “I’ve got 99 problems but trust me, being on your rap ain’t one.”
Lahren and Jay butted heads again this year following an interview Jay-Z did with Van Jones, in which he said: “Because you don't take care of the problem. You don't take the trash out. You just keep spraying whatever over it to make it acceptable. As those things grow, we create a superbug and now we have Donald Trump.” Lahren tweeted about it the following day, saying, “As opposed to you who raps about bitches and sisters and brags about selling crack. Yeah...Trump is the problem...sure.” Ah yes, that’ll really stick it to Jay-Z, the famous rapper about bitches and sisters. Jay-Z didn’t respond but Lahren’s old pal Wale jumped into Tonia’s menchies to remind her of the obvious: Jay-Z is not the President.
One of the many things conservative bloviators like Lahren enjoy yelling about is people playing “the race card,” which essentially belies their inherent desire to cover their ears and ignore anyone trying to raise demonstrable examples of racial injustice. So whenever they see an opportunity to latch onto something that gives them indisputable proof that racism is definitely over and we can all stop talking about it now, they’ll jump on it. That’s what happened when Lil Wayne said in a controversial interview with Skip Bayless that “there’s no such thing as racism,” which he later explained was because a white cop once saved his life. This served as a bat signal for Lahren, who took it up as a topic on The Blaze. “I never thought I would say this, but I have a newfound respect for Lil Wayne,” Lahren said, apparently incredulous that she has the capacity to respect a rapper. “Even when he was race-baited by Skip Bayless, given a shot to claim victimhood, and throw down that poor-me, Kaepernick-Beyoncé-Jesse Williams-Jada Pinkett Smith race card, he chose to speak his truth." Wow, what a name smoothie of black celebs she hates. But at least racism is over.
Charlamagne Tha God
Aside from the occasional high-profile verbal sparring match with Trevor Noah or the hosts of The View, Tomi Lahren typically sticks to solo segments in her studio where her wildly misguided opinions can go unchallenged. It is her—dare we say it—safe space. But in 2016, Lahren had The Breakfast Club host Charlamagne on her Blaze TV show via satellite to discuss some hot-button issues like Black Lives Matter, the Black Panthers (whom she repeatedly called a terrorist organization), Michael Brown’s murder, and police brutality. Charlamagne kept her on the hot seat and put her logic on the spot at times, at which point she would typically ask to “move on.” In turn, Lahren was scheduled to be a guest on The Breakfast Club, but had to cancel last-minute. The two have formed an unlikely friendship, though, and TMZ once spotted them together in Times Square. When asked about it by the TMZ reporter, Lahren responded, “See, look, I hang out with black people. I’ll bet you’re surprised.”
With all these instances of Lahren attacking black culture, you’d think she’d avoid hip-hop in her personal life and stick to Carrie Underwood karaoke parties and binge-watching episodes of Pretty Little Liars or whatever. Which was why it took people by surprise (to put it kindly) when she posted an Instagram story of herself singing along to Atlanta rapper 21 Savage’s “Bank Account” in the front seat of a car, where every terrible viral video has been filmed. There was something unnatural about 21 Savage’s words coming out of Lahren’s mouth, like watching a CGI cat speak with a British accent. It was also unnerving watching her do rap cosplay with the same hand that became famous for doing the white lady “I wanna talk to the manager” pointing gesture while calling Black Lives Matter the new KKK.
President Donny Diaper-Grampa will tweet about any ol’ shit that irritates him during the 22 hours a day he spends watching cable news. Literally anything—the NFL, models, news anchors, Kristen Stewart. Fuck, the guy once complained about a Smokey Bear commercial that he found “tedious.” He got so worked up about the aforementioned interview in which Jay-Z called him a superbug that his response made the cover of the New York Post, the top newspaper for people with Blue Lives Matter bumper stickers. Yet when Eminem spent almost five minutes insulting him in a televised freestyle that went extremely viral, he was eerily quiet. Huh, interesting. Trying to pinpoint the difference between Jay-Z and Eminem that might’ve rubbed Trump wrong… Anyway, even though Trump kept his mouth shut about Eminem, Lahren had some choice words for him on Dear Leader’s behalf, saying that, as a Detroit native, Eminem “should be ecstatic that Donald Trump is trying to bring back jobs to a city and state destroyed by Democrats and their policies.” Eminem didn’t respond to Lahren, though, considering in the grand scheme of things, she is a nobody with zero useful skills.
Interesting side note: Someone once asked Lahren on Twitter who her favorite rapper is, which led to this response:
So for a fun exercise, go back and watch Lahren’s Eminem rant but start it with “Dear Slim, I wrote you but you still ain’t callin’…”
On January 16, 2019, Cardi B posted a video on Instagram, slamming Trump’s government shutdown and including the line, “Our country is in a hellhole right now, all for a fucking wall.” The video went viral and got the attention of Lahren, who tweeted, “Looks like @iamcardib is the latest genius political mind to endorse the Democrats. HA! Keep it up, guys! #MAGA2020”. Lahren even @-ed Cardi, possibly because has some weird fetish for being publicly flagellated, or possibly because she realized that venting political gripes into a camera is paying Lahren’s bills and Cardi is giving it away for free. Cardi responded, and even gave her the chance to back down, tweeting that she would dog-walk her, but of course, Lahren will take literally any opportunity to see her name trend on Twitter and doubled down. Cardi then unloaded on her and called her a sheep. While the Democratic Party’s most milquetoast #resistance leaders were debating the merits of RTing Cardi B’s video, the Most Online Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wasted no time in throwing in for her fellow Bronx native, asking Lahren why she thought she could “mess with Bronx women without getting roasted.” A Cardi B/AOC quote RT combo is what’s known in online terminology as a "Notifications K.O." Had Beyoncé also jumped in, it would have triggered the trifecta that would forever entrap Lahren in the Fox News Cemetery of Undead Ghouls. But alas, she is cursed to continue walking the earth as an irrelevant mortal.
Listen to an episode about Tomi Lahren's ongoing hip-hop feud on The VICE Guide to Life: